For this post, we invited guest writer, Adam Zlotnik, to carry both the Ekster Aluminum Card Holder Wallet and Axwell Aluminum Wallet for 30 days. After a month of daily use with both wallets here were his findings >>>
Wallets were one of the first items to get a redesign for the modern everyday carry. Our fathers' leather bi and tri-fold wallets weren’t relevant in the 21st century. Yes, we still need to carry money and our driver's license. But the rise of plastic cards for everything from banks to grocery store rewards meant the older leather wallets became cumbersome, overstuffed folds.
To further add to the decline of the bi-fold was the rise of credit card skimmers. For those who haven’t had experience with these devices, how it works is by turning a privately held card reader out, a thief can scan information off of your card while in your pocket. Rather than overstuffing our wallets, we aim to keep much of our payment information on our phones. Loading payment information and receipts onto our phones has led to the rise of minimalist-minded slim wallets. These hard-sided wallets carry everything you need and nothing you don't.
One of the most well-known everyday carry wallet companies on the market is Ekster. Credit should be given where credit is due, and Ekster started the modern trend of a slim modern wallet. While this industry's top dog produces a great product, it certainly isn't the only company on the market.
Axwell, has also created a high-tolerance slim wallet designed for the modern user, packed with elements collaboratively designed to give their customers the most secure and enjoyable wallet on the market. I have tested each wallet for 30 days and will show why the Axwell wallet is the best alternative to the Ekster.
What makes a good minimalist wallet?
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of the two wallets, we should give a rundown of a few features that make for an excellent minimalist wallet.
Everyone wants a product made of quality, durable materials. No one wants stitching that breaks or body materials that destroy cards. Wallets spend a lot of time in pockets where they spar with other carry items like keys or pocketknives. A material that splits, cracks, or creases will begin to look rough quickly, not to mention the damage that a warped wallet will do to your payment cards. Durability is key.
Ease of Use
As we mentioned at the beginning with overstuffed wallets, what is it good for if your wallet doesn’t allow you to reliably and efficiently access your essentials? The ideal wallet should be well thought out for fast access to daily needs like bank cards and cash.
If a wallet is heavy and bulky, it will stick out like a sore thumb in business attire or fitted clothing. A slim, lightweight wallet is all we need. Leave the oversized wallets to cartoons. Furthermore, a minimalist wallet should be able to do everything you need. Minimalist wallets hold cash on the outside. Wallets that don't properly carry cash leave users with few options. Having a slim wallet and a money clip separately defeats the purpose of having a minimalist wallet.
One of the most significant drawbacks of older-generation wallets is the lack of RFID-blocking materials. Carbon fiber or lightweight metal serves to protect your cards and information from thieves. Don't buy a wallet without it.
There are warranties for everything you buy. However, a substantial warranty is a significant bonus for an item that will be on your person and in use for most of your waking hours. Good wallets are not inexpensive, and replacing one should be a matter of choice and not need.
Problems with the Ekster Wallet
As I have alluded to earlier, the Ekster wallet is the basis for a great story of crowdfunding and grassroots marketing. Their leather design adds a bit of classic charm to a modern wallet design. The biggest draw of the Ekster wallet is the staggered card dispenser. With the push of a button, the presorted cards eject for easy access. There are a few downsides to this wallet style though. These include concerns like:
The spring-loaded, card-release mechanism is made of plastic and is less durable. If it breaks, the wallet is useless, and you can't access your cards.
It only has a 12-month warranty. If the card release mechanism breaks or anything else falls apart after a year, you need to buy another wallet.
Does not include additional tools or configuration options out of the box. Additional options can be purchased separately and at costs close to that of the base wallet.
It cannot be customized. What you see is what you get.
Tension Not Consistent
The tension of the card carrier is not consistent. Smooth cards often fall out of the wallet or get stuck. Users must remember the optimal arrangement of their cards to keep the wallet working correctly.
Customers reported that the cardholder holds fewer cards than advertised. If you add embossed cards to the cardholder, they will reduce the capacity.
Why the Axwell Wallet is the best alternative
For the shopper looking at the slim wallet offerings on the market, the Axwell delivers on a number of levels. A wallet packed with features allows the end user to customize their wallet and continued support on all their products. I have separated a few of these aspects so I could better explain them.
Manual Card Release
Oversized finger slot to manually push cards up. Since you manually push cards up, it is fail-proof and will work forever.
Lifetime warranty. If anything happens, the wallet will be repaired or replaced for free. Money strap is wearing out? No problem. Axwell will repair your wallet at no cost to you. Read the lifetime warranty policy yourself, look here.
The Axwell wallet includes a cash strap and money clip. You can customize it with whatever option you want. The wallet can hold both the cash strap and money clip if you are carrying lots of cash. For the slimmest profile, you can remove the cash strap and money clip.
Mag-Lock™ Cover Plates
Mag-Lock™ replaceable Cover Plates. As they release new cover plates and accessories every year, you can easily customize your wallet to fit your look and style. Never worry about a wallet that clashes with your outfit or looks dated.
The metal plates on the Axwell wallet are thicker than Ekster's, which adds extra security and durability. Thicker gauge metal means the wallet is harder to dent or damage, protecting you and your cards.
Axwell donates a portion of all sales to homeless veterans programs. Check out the "Our Cause" page for more information on the causes they support. While a company’s altruism doesn't show up well on paper, it's a real factor for many shoppers to know that their purchase can go to help others in need.
While innovative, the Ekster wallet has some flaws that are worth taking note of. Compared to the compact Axwell, it's apparent that the Ekster has some major competition. With a rugged user, changeable exterior, and lifetime support, the Axwell wallet is a cornerstone of minimalist EDC gear that shouldn't be overlooked. While others won’t be aware of it when you go to pay for your next night out, every time you look at the trim hard-sided Axwell, you can remember that this wallet purchase helped more than just one person.
Interested in the Axwell wallet and other pieces of high-quality everyday carry gear? Stay informed on new products, best-of lists, and deep dives into gear selection with the Axwell Newsletter. Sign up for the Axwell Army Newsletter by clicking here and get a special discount on your first Axwell Wallet purchase.